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Masterpiece Theatre; American Collection: Cora Unashamed

Packaged master Cora Unashamed, EMAC 101C2 Tape 1 of 2

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Masterpiece Theatre
American Collection: Cora Unashamed
Program Number


Series Description

Program premiered in 1971 with The First Churchills. Hosted by Alastair Cooke. Intended as a showcase for the best of British television drama. Spawned MYSTERY! in 1980. Current executive producer Rebecca Eaton. All promotion of program done by Frank Goodman & Associates (see below). Synopsis, cast information and producers listed by individual title. Series release date: 1971

Program Description

The film is set in the early 20th century and centers around Cora Jenkins, an African-American woman who works as a maid in the white, well-to-do home of Mrs. Studevant. Cora is devastated when her young daughter Josephine suddenly dies from illness. Cora's pain is compounded by the still lingering sadness over her break-up with Joe, Josephine's father, a white itinerant worker and union activist, with whom Cora had a brief and passionate relationship. Cora's love for Joe is revealed through a series of flashbacks of her relationship with Joe, who abruptly left town for fear of being discovered by the authorities who wanted him for an alleged crime committed during Joe' s union activities in California. Cora largely suppresses her immense grief and transfers her emotions by developing a close bond with Jessie, Mrs. Studevant's young daughter and former playmate of Josephine. Jessie welcomes the bond with Cora, which she lacks with her own mother who is continually embarrassed by Jessie's slow wit and freckles. Over time, Cora's nurturing helps Jessie develop into a more confident young woman, who although still fearful of her mother, attempts to establish her own identity by dating Willie, the son of a local Greek dairy farmer. Mrs. Studevant looks upon this relationship with scorn, feeling that her daughter is above dating an immigrant's son. When Jessie reveals to Cora that she is pregnant with Willie's child, Jessie asks Cora to tell her mother. Mrs. Studevant is furious with the news, caring little for Cora's concern with what Jessie and Willie want for each other, and more worried about the shame she fears the pregnancy will bring to the Studevant family. Mrs. Studevant quickly arranges to bring Jessie to Kansas City for a secret abortion. Only Cora knows of the true intent of this trip. Even Mr. Studevant believes his wife and daughter are off on a shopping vacation. When Jessie returns from the trip, she is very ill and her health continues to deteriorate. Over Cora's objections, Mrs. Studevant refuses to consult the local doctor and bars Cora from nursing or even seeing Jessie. When Jessie dies, Cora finally confronts the rage pent up inside her. The unfairness of the loss of Joe and the injustice of the deaths of Josephine and now Jessie are unleashed as Cora reveals the truth about Jessie's death and rails against Mrs. Studevant for her ruinous pride. Her pent up rage finally released, Cora storms out of the Studevant house and never looks back as she walks away.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Chicago: “Masterpiece Theatre; American Collection: Cora Unashamed,” WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 19, 2018, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_94DA7945CE7A46B3B88A3C2445357073.
MLA: “Masterpiece Theatre; American Collection: Cora Unashamed.” WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 19, 2018. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_94DA7945CE7A46B3B88A3C2445357073>.
APA: Masterpiece Theatre; American Collection: Cora Unashamed. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_94DA7945CE7A46B3B88A3C2445357073
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